What is Biodynamics?

    Based on An Introduction to Biodynamic Agriculture,   originally published in Stella   Natura 1995.         

What is Biodcabbage140ynamic agriculture? In seeking an answer let us pose the further question:  Can the Earth heal itself, or has the waning of the Earths vitality  gone too far for this? No matter where our land is located, if we are observant  we will see sure signs of illness in trees, in our cultivated plants, in  the water, even in the  weather.

Organic agriculture rightly      wants to halt the devastation caused by humans; however, organic agriculture      has no cure for the ailing Earth. From this the following question arises:      What was the original source of vitality, and is it available now?

chardtree140Biodynamics is a science of life-forces, a recognition of the basic principles      at work in nature, and an approach to agriculture which takes these principles      into account to bring about balance and healing. In a very real way, then,      Biodynamics is an ongoing path of knowledge rather than an assemblage of      methods and techniques.

Biodynamics is part of the work of Rudolf        Steiner, known as anthroposophy – a new approach to science which        integrates precise observation of natural phenomena, clear thinking,        and knowledge of the spirit. It offers an account of the spiritual history        of the Earth as a living being, and describes the evolution of the constitution        of humanity and the kingdoms of nature.

Basic principles    of   Biodynamics
Broaden Our PerspectivelettuceA140

zuccini140Just as we need to look at the magnetic field of the whole earth to comprehend      the compass, to understand plant life we must expand our view to include      all that affects plant growth. No narrow microscopic view will suffice.      Plants are utterly open to and formed by influences from the depths of      the earth to the heights of the heavens. Therefore our considerations in      agriculture must range more broadly than is generally assumed to be relevant.

Reading the Book of Nature

Everything in nature reveals something of its essential character in      its form and gesture. Careful observations of nature – in shade and full      sun, in wet and dry areas, on different soils, will yield a more fluid      grasp of the elements. So eventually one learns to read the      language of nature. And then one can be creative, bringing new emphasis      and balance through specific actions.  Practitioners and experimenters      over the last seventy years have added tremendously to the body of knowledge      known as Biodynamics.

Cosmic Rhythms

The light of the sun, moon, planets and stars reaches the plants in regular      rhythms. Each contributes to the life, growth and form of the plant. By      understanding the gesture and effect of each rhythm, we can time our ground      preparation, sowing, cultivating and harvesting to the advantage of the      crops we are raising. The Stella Natura calendar which is featured in this      catalog offers an introduction to this new study.

Plant Life Is Intimately Bound Up with the Life of the Soil

Biodynamics recognizes that soil itself can be alive, and this vitality      supports and affects the quality and health of the plants that grow in      it. Therefore, one of Biodynamics fundamental efforts is to build up stable      humus in our soil through composting.

A New View of Nutrition

We gain our physical strength from the process of breaking down the food      we eat. The more vital our food, the more it stimulates our own activity.      Thus, Biodynamic farmers and gardeners aim for quality, and not only quantity.

Chemical agriculture has developed short-cuts to quantity by adding soluble      minerals to the soil. The plants take these up via water, thus by-passing      their natural ability to seek from the soil what is needed for health,      vitality and growth. The result is a deadened soil and artificially stimulated      growth.

Biodynamics grows food with a strong connection to a healthy, living      soil.

Medicine for the Earth: Biodynamic Preparations

Rudolf Steiner pointed out that a new science of cosmic influences would      have to replace old, instinctive wisdom and superstition. Out of his own      insight, he introduced what are known as biodynamic preparations.

Naturally occurring plant and animal materials are combined in specific      recipes in certain seasons of the year and then placed in compost piles.      These preparations bear concentrated forces within them and are used to organize the      chaotic elements within the compost piles. When the process is complete,      the resulting preparations are medicines for the Earth      which draw new life forces from the cosmos.

Two of the preparations are used directly in the field, one on the earth      before planting, to stimulate soil life, and one on the leaves of growing      plants to enhance their capacity to receive the light. Effects of the preparations      have been verified scientifically.

The Farm as the Basic Unit of Agriculture

In his Agriculture course, Rudolf        Steiner posed the ideal of the self-contained farm – that there should        be just the right number of animals to provide manure for fertility,        and these animals should, in turn, be fed from the farm.

We can seek the essential gesture of such a farm also under other circumstances.      It has to do with the preservation and recycling of the life-forces with      which we are working. Vegetable waste, manure, leaves, food scraps, all      contain precious vitality which can be held and put to use for building      up the soil if they are handled wisely. Thus, composting is a key activity      in Biodynamic work.

The farm is also a teacher, and provides the educational opportunity      to imitate natures wise self-sufficiency within a limited area. Some have      also successfully created farms through the association of several parcels      of non-contiguous land.

Economics Based on Knowledge of the Job

Steiner emphasized the absurdity of agricultural economics determined      by people who have never actually raised crops or managed a farm.

A new approach to this situation has been developed which brings about      the association of producers and consumers for their mutual benefit. The      Community Supported Agriculture movement was born in the Biodynamic movement      and is spreading rapidly. Gardens or farms gather around them a circle      of supporters who agree in advance to meet the financial needs of the enterprise      and its workers, and these supporters each receive a share of the produce      as the season progresses. Thus consumers become connected with the real      needs of the Earth, the farm and the Community; they rejoice in rich harvests,      and remain faithful under adverse circumstances.

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